Posts Tagged ‘history’
1. I had this plan to set up a 7 Quick Takes Friday draft post every week, probably starting on Saturday, into which I would pile links and short observations. That way, I could just pick the seven best ones come Friday, and wouldn’t that be sweet? I still think it’s a good plan. But nothing even remotely like that has happened this week. Sigh.
What I’ve done instead is redo every ebook cover on every book over which I have the control of the cover and content. I also pulled a couple of the really short children’s books, to rewrite. And I edited a new novel, that should be out soon. And mowed the lawn, and watered the lawn, and chased kids around. It’s been a busy week.
2. For a while, we had a cow that routinely jumped over the neighbor’s fence and ate in our front pasture. Our front pasture is new, and not fenced yet, which made it handy for the cow. When he felt like it, he just hopped back in with the other cows, so I stopped worrying about him.
I haven’t seen him in days. I’m a bit afraid of asking the neighbors how they solved that problem. He was a bit young yet to take to the slaughterhouse, but sometimes it’s better to cut your losses if you have a cow that will not stay home. I think I won’t ask.
3. I usually take a five year old grandniece with me to a couple of weekly ‘Bible studies’ at assisted living centers. I put ‘Bible studies’ in quotes, because it’s not quite the right designation. It’s more like a short rendezvous of Christians in the facility, with a couple or three of us outsiders leading singing, reading a short Bible passage, leading corporate prayer, and leading singing again, for a total of a half hour at each place. (No, I can’t sing. Yes, they forgive me for that.) This week, the five year old was having a very busy day, with her first day of pre-kindergarten, plus birthday celebrations, so I took her three-year-old sister. She did really, really well at being my helper in handing out songbooks, and collecting songbooks, and she sang along nicely as well as she could, and she tried really, really hard to sit still the rest of the time. That’s not to say she sat still. She was, however, praised by numerous people for being such a cheerful, detail-oriented helper. That was fun.
Please, if you have kids under your wing, consider getting involved in visits to assisted living centers or nursing homes. I hate age ghettos, and those set up for old people are some of the most heartbreaking, because most of the people there dreadfully miss being around children. Some don’t, of course, but most do. You should see them light up when they’ve got a child to chat with. It’s also been fun watching the kids learn to deal with old people with various disabilities. Kids are naturals at adapting to stuff like that, in my experience, and I doubt it hurts them any to see people loving people who may not be able to do much.
5. Speaking of national education programs that don’t like to have people deviate from the state indoctrination project, this is scary. I can’t say it makes me want to visit Germany any time soon, either.
6. On a more cheerful note, I discovered a wonderful little book that would be good for read-aloud, or bedtime stories. I got the Kindle edition while it was on sale: In Grandma’s Attic. As of post time, it’s still on sale, at 99 cents.
7. Back to a less cheerful note, another book I’d recommend is Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. I don’t believe history ever repeats itself, per se, but it sure does rhyme frequently, and all too much of what Eastern Europe went through as it fell into totalitarian ruthlessness is all too similar to trends today. Not encouraging, that. But forewarned is forearmed, if you’ve got the stomach for it. It’s not as brutal a read as The Gulag Archipelago. But it’s scary enough, and I doubt our schools are likely to provide the info. On the contrary, they seem to be in a ‘oh, communism would be wonderful if only we ran it’ propaganda mode. Again. Or do I mean still? On the upside, the Iron Curtain didn’t stay up the way the central planners wanted it to, now did it?
It is being said that the idea that carrots improve your night vision grew out of a need to keep radar advances secret during WWII. Here’s the story, with illustrations from the time.
From a new book, a look at the epidemic hijacking of airplanes in the ’60s and ’70s, with emphasis on those starry-eyed people who sought to go to Cuba – where they found themselves despised.
I rather like this 2011 commencement address by Robert Blackstock. A taste:
There it is. A start. We want you to think well and often. The point bears mention, of course, because the difficulties we face as a nation, and the difficulties which you will face in college this fall, were caused in no small part by successive generations of leaders who did not think well. It’s not so much that they lack acuity or native intelligence. Rather, they have lost track of which ideas bore good fruit and which ill.
Having marched up the long and arduous road from 1776 to unprecedented freedom and prosperity, we as a nation have forgotten the ideas on which this freedom and this prosperity were first built. The danger is real and it is present. We stand to lose the blessings of liberty, if we do not reclaim those principles and habits without which those blessings cannot stand. This is an urgent concern for you, because the national conversation about ideas is especially pointed and especially off-track in our colleges and universities.
… to a foreign friend, Giovanni Fabbroni, updating him on the war, on scientific experiments, and bemoaning the state of music in America:
SIR, — Your letter of Sep. 15. 1777 from Paris comes safe to hand. We have not however had the pleasure of seeing Mr. De Cenis, the bearer of it in this country, as he joined the army in Pennsylvania as soon as he arrived. I should have taken particular pleasure in serving him on your recommendation. From the kind anxiety expressed in your letter as well as from other sources of information we discover that our enemies have filled Europe with Thrasonic accounts of victories they had never won and conquests they were fated never to make. While these accounts alarmed our friends in Europe they afforded us diversion. We have long been out of all fear for the event of the war. I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence. This is the best history of the war which can be brought within the compass of a letter. I believe the account to be near the truth, tho’ it is difficult to get at the numbers lost by an enemy with absolute precision. Many of the articles have been communicated to us from England as taken from the official returns made by their General. I wish it were in my power to send you as just an account of our loss. But this cannot be done without an application to the war office which being in another county is at this time out of my reach. I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. If there could have been a doubt before as to the event of the war it is now totally removed by the interposition of France, & the generous alliance she has entered into with us. Tho’ much of my time is employed in the councils of America I have yet a little leisure to indulge my fondness for philosophical studies. I could wish to correspond with you on subjects of that kind. It might not be unacceptable to you to be informed for instance of the true power of our climate as discoverable from the thermometer, from the force & direction of the winds, the quantity of rain, the plants which grow without shelter in winter &c. On the other hand we should be much pleased with contemporary observations on the same particulars in your country, which will give us a comparative view of the two climates. Farenheit’s thermometer is the only one in use with us, I make my daily observations as early as possible in the morning & again about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, these generally showing the maxima of cold & heat in the course of 24 hours. I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but I am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you. The greatest difficulty will be the means of conveyance during the continuance of the war.
If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, & fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, who may be a proficient in singing, & on the Harpsichord. I should be contented to receive such an one two or three years hence, when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can furnish. The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy which we are obliged to observe. I retain for instance among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore di lino e lin), a cabinet maker (Stipeltaio) and a stone cutter (Scalpellino laborante in piano) to which I would add a vigneron. In a country where like yours music is cultivated and practised by every class of men I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could perform on the French horn, clarinet or hautboy & bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French horns, two clarinets, & hautboys & a bassoon, without enlarging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time to find them if they choose a conveyance to their own country might induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without meaning to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you in [your] ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good nature would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me what will be necessary to be done on my part I will take care that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in France, with which country alone we have safe correspondence. I am Sir with much esteem your humble servant.
Find this letter and other American documents at The Avalon Project.
You may have heard by now about the college class in Florida where students were told to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then put the paper on the floor and stomp on it? Such exercises have been around for a while, sad to say, and not just in classrooms. Let Anthony Sacramone give you a brief look at how it played out in Japan for a while. (New Addition to Core Curriculum: Stomp on the Name of Jesus, Intercollegiate Review, March 26, 2013.)
hat tip: Lars Walker, on Facebook